There is a deep magic in building a sense of familiar in a wild space. What are some of your favorite places to be in nature and how do those overlap with places where you do your work?
Herbalism builds so much familiarity in wildness. My favorite places include the Blue Ridge Mountains, a sandy beach by a cold creek, the coast of California, near the redwoods in Big Sur, Sitton's Gulch in Cloudland Canyon, in the water in the Little River Canyon.
Also, I live in the woods so just being outdoors on this land fills me right back up. It's so intimate and familiar, and so very wild! Just a few weeks ago, a wild boar was eating our compost. If that's not blurring the line between familiarity and wilderness, I don't know what is!
We work from home here, on the land, and we also have a small warehouse here, built out of an old greenhouse in passive solar design. One wall of the space is entirely windows, looking out onto a little hill where deer love to graze in the afternoons. From my desk, I'm looking straight out into the woods, and get to watch hummingbirds, hawks, spiders and dragonflies live their lives while I live mine.
Appalachia holds a rich tradition of herbal remedy— the very nature of the landscape is gentle, ancient, rounded, and wise. How important is a sense of place to your connectivity to those traditions?
Such a beautiful description - gentle, ancient, rounded, and wise. The traditions and landscape of Appalachia, specifically eastern Tennessee where I was born and raised, where my family has been for generations, have formed me almost entirely. They are who I am. They are why I started Wooden Spoon Herbs - to highlight the beauty and bounty of this bioregion, one of the most rich and biodiverse places on this planet. I am innately connected to the folkways and traditions of this place, and am literally made of this place. My mom ate vegetables grown here when she was pregnant with me, they became my cells.
No matter how much I cherish and learn about the land and plants here, I know there are thousands of generations of people who know it and love it more deeply. The river I live on was said to be the meeting point between the Creeks to the southwest and the Cherokees to the northeast. I honor them and their traditions by not wildcrafting for profit, by caretaking the land and by not using any of their Indigenous medicine ways as my own.
Herbalism also has an ancient lineage which is anecdotally matriarchal. Do you feel a resonance between your own version of the sacred feminine and your work with plants?
I definitely feel like female-identifying people are the keepers of the Earth wisdoms. I laugh when I think about how repelled I am by male teachers of herbalism, which is silly, but is a slight aversion I do honestly have. Like, how dare you mansplain something to me that I feel so deeply in my bones? Step aside, we've got this.